Pasadena’s OpenX Technologies Inc. has added Douglas McPherson as its chief legal officer, another big step for a rapidly growing company that might be heading toward an initial public offering.

OpenX, primarily an online ad exchange that enables buyers and sellers of web advertising to make instantaneous transactions, has made sizable leaps in head count and sales in the last year. Executives said that it has grown to the point where it needs an in-house legal team.

To that end, they have brought in McPherson, who previously advised numerous startups as general counsel at Pasadena business incubator Idealab.

At OpenX, McPherson’s legal duties will include handling mergers and protecting intellectual property. He will also advise on larger business matters.

“My responsibilities are going to be quite broad,” McPherson said. “The team here is very open and receptive to input of all kinds and I think they are expecting me to bring my experience and knowledge to bear.”

Chief Executive Tim Cadogan noted that McPherson was the best fit for the position because of his experience at an incubator, a business program that supports startups until they become publicly traded or acquired.

“The last 10 to 12 years gave him an exposure that is almost unique in terms of helping dozens of companies through every stage, every situation you could envisage,” he said.

Since London-based parent company OpenAds launched it in 2008, OpenX has grown from one to 170 employees in Pasadena and 250 employees worldwide. This year it added 83 employees to the Pasadena headquarters, and inked a deal to move into 45,000 square feet at 888 Walnut St. in coming months.

Last year, the company hit profitability and its revenue grew 700 percent. It announced that last year’s fourth quarter sales put it on track to more than $100 million a year in annual sales.

The growth has fueled speculation about an initial public offering – an area of McPherson’s expertise. Cadogan said an IPO and mergers and acquisitions were “distinct possibilities,” but that there is no timetable.

“I wouldn’t say any of them are definitive at this point,” he said. “But those are increasingly likely outcomes.”

Silicon Beach Expansion

An increasing number of attorneys are looking to tap into the L.A. area’s burgeoning tech scene. This summer, Cooley LLP was the first major Silicon Valley law firm to expand into the area when it opened an office in Santa Monica, near the cluster of startups dubbed Silicon Beach.